By Eddie Griffin
Watchman: What of the night? Watchman: What of the night? (Isaiah 21:11)
On the night of December 31, 1862, slaves in America gathered in churches, prayed all night, and watched for morning. For it was upon January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation would go into effect. We called it Watch Night.
The morning is coming, but also the night. (Isaiah 21:12)
As morning came and went, the Negro was only partially free. But morning cannot prevent the night, as long as the sun rises and sets. The night cometh again.
Somewhere in the Mississippi Delta, I was awaken to the fact that I was a male Negro child, and hated because of the color of my skin.
The Life and Death of Emmett Till tells our story of growing up black in America during the 1950s, and the perils of racial hatred and oppression.
If you would ask, then ask; and come back yet again. (Isaiah 21:12)
I was 9 years old when they killed Emmett Till. He was only 14 when he was murdered in Mississippi, a world away from Texas. But I saw the picture of his mutilated body in Jet magazine. I could only imagine how they had tortured him all night that Sunday, August 28 1955.
What of the night and what does the autopsy show?
Did they castrate him like they did at every lynching? Did they gauge out his eyes, cut off his nose and his ears? Did they skin him and burn him with fire?
The barbwire wrapped around Emmett Till's neck did not kill him. He was already dead when they tied the barbwire to a fan weight and tossed his body over the Tallahatchie River.
At the age of 9, I began growing up with a sinking feeling in my stomach and apprehensions and phobias about certain people. There is evil in the world. It is a fact of life that I had to live with.